Sunday, November 18, 2007

How Many Characters Per Server? +

The difference of opinion I have with some gamers on the subject of multiple characters per server probably comes down to this:

Originally Posted by [a fan]:
with my 8 alts that I have, I share items and gold between them frequently, because I simply do not have the space to keep all the things I need.
I believe this gamer, like many others, is confusing "need" with "want."

An apparently stronger argument in favor of multiple alts is this one:

Originally Posted by writerguy731:
This reminds me of another wrench I was going to throw in but forgot to, and it's not really directed at anyone specifically.
My point is, you say using alts in a way is getting around game design, but there's a solid case to be made that using alts in that way is the game design, because it's permissible by the game [which allows alts]
Not aimed at anyone specifically, huh? :)

Actually, that's a point I was expecting someone to make. I've been trying to think of a way to bring it up myself, but have left it alone until now because I don't think it's as strong a counterargument to the idea of limiting alts as it may appear to be.

If the decision is made for a game to allow N possible alts per server, then sure, the developers would be dumb not to assume that many players will use all those alts as a kind of single ubercharacter, in which case you'd expect developers to balance the challenge level of the game accordingly. Providing alternate characters is tacit acceptance of that kind of "I contain multitudes" gameplay, especially if trading items between alts is accepted or even encouraged with gameplay features supporting it.

But that's not really what we're talking about here, which is not "how many of a game's allowable alts should a player be able to use," but "how many alts should be allowed in a MMORPG." That's a different question.

With respect to the latter question of how many alts are right for most MMORPGs, I'm not trying to pound the table and insist, "No! There can be only one!" Allowing only a main character might be right for Game X, but two or eight or fifty might be better for Game Y. All I'm hoping to do with my comments in this thread is show that it's OK to question the popular assumption that multiple alts are always desirable or necessary, because allowing alts creates a gameplay challenge level issue that has to be addressed.

Do some gamers want many alts? Sure.

Do they need many alts, at the same time, on the same server?